Home  /  Series  /  Behind the Book  /  Carolyn Campbell with Jed Buchwald ● 11/18/2021

Carolyn Campbell with Jed Buchwald

Thursday, November 18 , 2021 at 5 p.m. PT • Virtual Event • FREE

Step onto the hallowed grounds of Paris’s Père-Lachaise Cemetery and commune with some of the great scientific minds of the 18th and early 19th centuries buried there.

Author and photographer Carolyn Campbell, whose book City of Immortals: Père-Lachaise Cemetery, Paris celebrates the novelty and eccentricity of the famous resting place, engages Caltech history professor Jed Buchwald in a spirited discussion as he takes on the persona of three scientists: astronomer Jérôme Lalande; mathematician, physicist, and historian Joseph Fourier; and decipherer of Egyptian hieroglyphics Jean-François Champollion.

Together, Campbell and Buchwald bring to life these luminaries and uncover the controversies surrounding their provocative debates about science, politics, and religion; Napoleon's pivotal role in their cultural and intellectual adventures; and the significance of their discoveries that unfolded against the background of the French Revolution and the Restoration.


statue of a woman in repose wearing in scarf
Credit: Carolyn Campbell

City of Immortals: Pére-Lachaise Cemetery, Paris is available now.

A 20% discount on signed copies is being offered by Goff Books to all event attendees. A password to unlock the discount will be shared at the event.


About Père-Lachaise Cemetery

The Père-Lachaise Cemetery, founded in 1804, takes its name from King Louis XIV's Jesuit confessor, Rev. François d'Aix de La Chaise. One of four cemeteries planned through a Napoleonic decree, the Pére-Lachaise plan for a garden-style memorial park was seen as revolutionary for its time. Designer Alexandre-Théodore Brongniart faced a vast and unprecedented architectural and landscaping challenge: to create the first proper burial area for individual gravesites outside of a churchyard.

Situated in the 20th arrondissement of Paris, it extends 107 acres and contains 70,000 burial plots. In addition, it is a magnificent open-air museum of funerary sculpture and architecture spanning more than two centuries of art history. Père-Lachaise Cemetery is the largest cemetery in Paris and open green space in the city. With more than 3.5 million visitors annually, it is the most visited necropolis in the world. Campbell's book features 84 cultural icons buried at the cemetery including Oscar Wilde, Edith Piaf, Marcel Proust, and Gertrude Stein. This event will focus on several of the significant scientists who rest the cemetery: astronomer Jérôme Lalande; mathematician, physicist, and historian Joseph Fourier; and Jean-François Champollion, a decipherer of Egyptian hieroglyphics.

About the Carolyn Campbell (Author)

btw of a middle aged blonde woman with glasses smiling
Courtesy Carolyn Campbell

A published author and exhibited photographer, Carolyn Campbell is a native of Washington, D.C., has lived in Paris, and currently resides in Los Angeles. Her fascination with Père-Lachaise Cemetery was kindled on a first visit to Paris in the early 1980s. Her research and photo documentation of the world-famous cemetery culminated in her debut book, City of Immortals: Père-Lachaise Cemetery, Paris, published by Goff Books. It was named No. 2 on the Los Angeles Times Bestseller List and No. 1 on Amazon's Hot New Releases.

In 2020, she was awarded an Artist Grant from the City of West Hollywood for her City of Immortals™ interdisciplinary project. She has contributed essays to several publications, including City Secrets Paris: The Essential Insider's Guide by Fang Duff Kahn Publishers and "The Arts" chapter of the L.A. mayor's Los Angeles Annual Report by Benchmark Publishing.

A summa cum laude graduate of the Maryland Institute College of Art (MICA), she has been working as an arts and communications specialist for over 30 years and established her own agency, Campbell Communications in 1989. She has held positions with the Corcoran Gallery of Art, the American Film Institute and the UCLA School of the Arts and Architecture.

She has served as a public relations faculty member for Otis Parsons School of Art and Design in Continuing Education and a workshop presenter for the California Arts Council, Arts Inc. Arts Leadership Initiative, and the Getty Center Education Fund. An active member of ArtTable, the National Writers Union, PEN America, and the Los Angeles Center for Photography, she was recently appointed to the President's Global Advisory Council at the Maryland Institute College of Art.

About Jed Buchwald (Professor of History, Caltech; "Jérôme Lalande"; "Joseph Fourier"; "Jean-François Champollion")

b&w photo of a bald man with white beard wearing glasses

Jed Buchwald is Doris and Henry Dreyfuss Professor of History at the California Institute of Technology and director of the Caltech–Huntington Research Institute for the History of Science and Technology. Awarded a MacArthur Fellowship in 1995 (U.S.) and a Killam Fellowship in 1990 (Canada), Buchwald was trained at Princeton (BA '71) and Harvard (MA and PhD '74). Buchwald has authored or co-authored six books and edited or co-edited 11 volumes on the history of science and related matters as well as over 70 articles.

His most recent books are The Zodiac of Paris, with Diane Greco Josefowicz (Princeton, 2010); Isaac Newton and the Origin of Civilization, with Mordechai Feingold (Princeton, 2012); The Riddle of the Rosetta, with Josefowicz (Princeton, 2020); and the edited volume, Einstein Was Right (Princeton, 2020). At Caltech, Buchwald teaches courses in ancient civilization, the origins of religion, and the history of physics. He is a member of the Académie Internationale d'Histoire des Sciences (effectif), and a fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science and of the American Philosophical Society.

Praise for City of Immortals

""The artist's voluminous work is a gorgeous collection of words and images that captures the awe of the place, its legacy, its grace, its sense of peace and mystery."

—Genie Davis, art critic, Art and Cake magazine


"It is indispensable for anyone who wants to truly get their mind around this amazing maze of art and death. Thankfully, a passionate American has set her laser focus on these 107 acres of corpses and copses."

—Laurie Pike, editor, The Paris Blog


"City of Immortals is not only beautiful but helpful. Père-Lachaise is the final resting place of Sarah Bernhardt, Frédéric Chopin, Eugène Delacroix, Edith Piaf, Marcel Proust, Gertrude Stein, Isadora Duncan, Oscar Wilde, and, somehow most famously, Jim Morrison. It's a great place to visit―but a tough place to find your way around. Though, as Campbell is quick to point out, ‘Sometimes getting lost can be as rewarding as arriving at your intended destination.'"

—Shana Nys Dambrot, arts editor, L.A. Weekly